Tipp's two late season bolters make difference as John McGrath's heroics go under radar 1 month ago

Tipp's two late season bolters make difference as John McGrath's heroics go under radar

The sending off undoubtedly had a huge bearing on the game but Tipperary looked sharper for the battle none-the-less.

Their delivery of ball into their forwards was as is often the case, top class. Their puck-outs were economical and their support play was a joy to watch.

Kilkenny on the other hand, resorted to high, hopeful ball both into their full forward line from midfield and into their half forward line from the puck-outs. The stat that they won under 30% of their own puck-outs - the majority of which went long, tells a story in itself.

Tipperary with their extra man, gobbled up the high balls. Ronan Maher had a field day, Cathal Barrett was hot onto the breaks. Kennedy and Heffernan were galloping like greyhounds.

In The GAA Hour studio, Cheddar paid high praise to Tipperary's two late season bolters Seamus Kennedy and Barry Heffernan. Neither player was first choice at the beginning of the year but they came good against Wexford previously and against Kilkenny here.

Barry Heffernan and Tipp defenders

"I seen him play a couple of times last year at wing back where he was a nice stick-man," said Cheddar of the Nenagh Éire Óg club man.

"He's a much, much more aggressive and harder hurler this year. And was in the semi-final as well."

Indeed he is. Renowned for his hurling brain and sharp touch, Heffernan showed an added steel and physical edge this year. The sight of him plucking balls over Walter Walsh and Fennelly late on summed it all up. A man of just 24, this lad is coming into his own for Tipp now.

Heffernan won countless primary possessions for his county

The best thing about Tipperary's performance though, was what they did with the ball when they had it. To a man, they didn't panic. They either galloped into the space or took their time to pick the right pass.

Seamus Kennedy was a brilliant exponent of this. The St Mary's Clonmel player only really nailed his spot for this game with a solid semi-final showing and his two well taken points, as well as his athleticism on the ball impressed Plunkett.

"What I really liked about the Tipp backs yesterday was when they won the ball, they were like sprinters coming out of defence with the ball. They always have options coming out too for a hand-pass, it creates a two-on-one. Seamus Kennedy, Barry Heffernan, these lads were sprinting like greyhounds out the field."

After a couple of difficult years, Seamus Kennedy delivered again on the biggest stage for Tipp, just like he did in 2016

And that's what frees up and creates space for the Tipp shooters. Bubbles O'Dwyer was in dreamland.

Noel and John McGrath

The Loughmore-Castleiney brothers. What else is there to say? Man-of-the-match Noel gave a clinic in using the ball well and creating space in a packed middle third.

"Noel McGrath makes himself free in midfield and that's where he'll kill you," says Plunkett.

His brother John chipped in with 0-3 from play. But it was his hook, when he found himself in unknown territory early on that impressed Brian Carroll most.

"Phenomenal," says Brian Carroll. "You expect it out of the backs but for John McGrath to find himself in that position, then the ground he made up. A fantastic hook because let's be honest, you were just waiting for the net to be rattled."

McGrath spotted Walter Walsh making a run up the field, and covered over 80 mts to get back and make the hook

You can listen to The All-Ireland final GAA Hour hurling show here.